Trade Lanes

Trade Lanes

In-depth news and analysis of the world's major shipping trade lanes including the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, Asia-Europe and more.

Trade lane decisions

Several variables can affect a trade lane's popularity — including its inclusion/discontinuance by an ocean carrier. The container line landscape is constantly evolving as market dynamics present new challenges to the industry. See how the companies involved have changed as a result of mergers and acquisitions since 1977.

Commentary

This is the price the industry pays for its inability to reach a level of stability where container lines can make enough money from rates to cover their operating costs, much less turn a profit

News & Analysis

A container ship.
19 Dec 2018
After a year of dismal schedule reliability, carriers have revised their networks in an attempt to improve service levels, but standing in the way are significant challenges.
Port of Los Angeles.
14 Dec 2018
Eastbound trans-Pacific spot rates fell for the fourth straight week.
An MSC ship.
10 Dec 2018
After four straight months of declining demand growth on the westbound Asia-Europe trade, container volume has started to increase.
Port of Los Angeles.
04 Dec 2018
Ocean carriers will have even more reason to show trans-Pacific capacity discipline, if Sea-Intelligence’s demand forecast proves to be accurate; however, a current container shipping trend may make that doubly hard.
Port of Los Angeles.
03 Dec 2018
There are still more unknowns than knowns about the US-China tariff ‘truce,’ but this is clear: the extra time until March 1 helps shippers by giving them a longer time cushion before higher tariffs could potentially start.
Two ships at the Port of Los Angeles.
30 Nov 2018
Following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires on Saturday at the G20 summit, President Trump agreed to a 90-day truce in which the US wouldn’t impose higher tariffs on Jan 1. as threatened.
Trucks travel on a highway in China.
30 Nov 2018
Shipper demand for faster China-Europe alternatives to ocean freight is the driving force behind rising rail volume and the rapid development of new services on the intercontinental route, such as trucking.
30 Nov 2018
The cuts come even amid reports of Brazilian coffee and cotton exporters scrambling for outbound capacity out of the ports of Santos and Vitoria.
Port of Los Angeles.
16 Nov 2018
The US imports surge from Asia since mid-summer is due largely to savvy capacity management by carriers individually and through vessel-sharing alliances. However, retailers’ front-loading of imports to stay ahead of tariffs on mainland China led to an earlier-than-expected peak-shipping season this summer and now to fast-forwarding of spring merchandise.
Rotterdam port at sunrise.
16 Nov 2018
Those who want to end the legal framework exempting liner shipping consortia from European Union antitrust rules say it would increase competition and therefore shipper choice. But this is an instance where the solution may ultimately lead to an outcome that’s worse than the current condition.
The Port of Oakland.
14 Nov 2018
Rising operating costs that are siphoning off profitability will see carriers having a much greater hold on capacity going into what is looking like a volatile 2019.
SM Line.
13 Nov 2018
“There is no will or reason to merge the two companies. SM Line will continue to build its own business models and we will do our part to survive in the market independently,” said SM Line CEO Kim during a meeting at the company’s headquarters in Seoul.
09 Nov 2018
Some are predicting a continuation of peak season-like conditions — marked by record high spot rates and space restrictions — not just through the end of the year but continuing until the Chinese New Year holiday beginning in early February.
Port of Los Angeles.
08 Nov 2018
Some are predicting a continuation of peak season-like conditions not just through the end of the year but continuing until the Chinese New Year holiday beginning in early February. Beyond that, two sector variables will determine the extent of anticipated first-quarter weakness in spot rates.
Port of Los Angeles.
02 Nov 2018
The Trump administration's initial 10 percent tariff on China prompted front-loading of holiday goods earlier this year. Now, the prospect of an additional 25 percent tariff on China on Jan. 1 is affecting spring shipments. Each is among the chief reasons trans-Pacific spot rates have maintained their strength.
A CMA CGM ship in Europe.
30 Oct 2018
How carriers recoup the rising cost of fuel will be key to their profitability this year. Bunker fuel comprises the largest single operating cost for shipping lines.
Port of Los Angeles.
26 Oct 2018
Shippers were still paying high spot rates, and scheduled deployment of extra-loader vessels indicates carriers believe imports will remain strong into November.
Antwerp port.
26 Oct 2018
Current supply/demand fundamentals and trade tensions are not a recipe for ocean carriers hoping to post a second consecutive year of profits. And then there is the low-sulfur fuel rule starting Jan. 1, 2020.
Air cargo being loaded.
23 Oct 2018
“There should be enough space as supply catches up with demand, but it is still possible to have a peak like we did last year [2017],” a spokesman for Freight Investor Service said.
Trans-Pacific Trade Oct. 2018 photo for Infographic.
19 Oct 2018
The chaos of the trans-Pacific peak season has set the stage for tough annual service contract negotiations in the spring between container lines and US importers from Asia.
Port of Los Angeles.
17 Oct 2018
It has now been 12 consecutive weeks that spot rates on imports from Asia have been higher than $2,000 to the West Coast and $3,000 to the East Coast, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. This is the longest sustained period of elevated spot rates since 2013.
Port of Santos.
16 Oct 2018
Although still in the early schedule-setting process, a likely new joint venture will leave Asia-east coast of South America shippers with fewer, larger ships and one less service, so says a shipping industry expert.
The Port of Los Angeles.
12 Oct 2018
Spot rates in the eastbound Pacific show no sign of softening, and shippers may end up paying high spot rates through the end of the year, if imports remain strong. New US tariffs beginning Jan. 1 definitely have something to do with the above.
The Port of Los Angeles.
05 Oct 2018
As uncertain as trans-Pacific rates have been, they are up 56 percent to the West Coast and 67 percent to the East Coast, compared with early Oct. 2017. However, more price volatility is anticipated as the peak season ends, importers prepare for the Chinese New Year, and proposed 25 percent Trump administration tariffs take effect on Jan. 1.
A freight train travels across China.
04 Oct 2018
China’s government has invested billions in the China-Europe rail network, and volume, propelled by subsidies, has surged. However, those subsidies have created other downsides for shippers and the broader market.
Port of Los Angeles with a CMA CGM ship.
28 Sep 2018
Further, two key decision-makers, one each from the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, agreed that the early building of peak-season inventory this summer will be followed by slower growth in the fourth quarter of the year.
Nippon Cargo Airlines.
26 Sep 2018
Further, trans-Pacific shippers will welcome the additional capacity, especially this peak season, for several reasons.
Port of Los Angeles.
21 Sep 2018
However, analysts and stakeholders say shippers should not focus on the rate drop, but rather, they should prepare for unprecedented turmoil in the eastbound Pacific that is affecting cargo loading at Asian ports and delivery and storage in the United States.
The Port of Los Angeles.
20 Sep 2018
Already chaotic and upended, the Trump administration’s proposed Jan. 1, 2019, 25 percent tariff on imports from China is causing importers to scramble for ocean, truck, and rail capacity — with the next ramification being the warehouse variable: will there be any space after the front-loading of imports?
Port of Los Angeles.
18 Sep 2018
The focus now turns to how dramatic the post-peak season decline will be, and if it will take place earlier than normal after shippers front-loaded their supply chains to avoid US tariffs.
Port of Los Angeles.
14 Sep 2018
Extra-loaders have made their presence felt, but is that extra capacity capable of ending the escalation in trans-Pacific spot rates long term?
A Hapag-Lloyd ship.
14 Sep 2018
The spot market between Asia and Europe remains stronger than at the same time last year, but the rate is beginning to follow a pattern that will likely concern ocean carriers.
Port of Los Angeles.
07 Sep 2018
Ocean carriers plan October blank sailings even as they introduce extra-loader vessels to handle an import surge in September.
Port of Los Angeles.
05 Sep 2018
The move represents modest good news for US importers scrambling for slots, amid a peak season surge in volume.
Antwerp port.
05 Sep 2018
The capacity cutback is another data point that provides pause for thought regarding the argument that a second-half demand/capacity balance would support a recent upswing in container shipping rates.